Fire destroys house on Leiters Mill Road

July 17, 2011|By DAVE McMILLION |

A single-story house on Leiters Mill Road was destroyed by fire Sunday afternoon when flames quickly raced through the home, burning the roof off as spectators and family members watched.

Because flames had engulfed the house north of Hagerstown by the time firefighters arrived, the only thing they could do was battle it from the exterior, said Capt. Daniel Hawbaker of the Leitersburg Volunteer Fire Co.

Robert Small said at the scene that he had been living at the 20854 Leiters Mill Road house since 1979.

Small said he and his wife, Betty, also own a farmhouse close by and the couple has been preparing to move into that house. In the meantime, Small and his wife were living in the one-story house with Small’s son, Small’s daughter-in-law and the couple’s 6-year-old son. Small said his daughter and his daughter’s 6-year-old son also lived in the house.

Small said the rest of his family had planned to live in the one-story house after he and his wife moved into the farmhouse.

Small said his son and daughter and the children were at the one-story house when it caught fire but no one was hurt.

“It only took me two minutes to get here. It was completely in flames and everything,” Small said.

It was unclear Sunday afternoon what started the fire, said John Bentley, chief of Washington County Special Operations.

The fire, which was reported at 4:38 p.m., was brought under control in about an hour, according to Bentley and Hawbaker, who was in charge of the scene. The house also had a full basement and an attached garage, Bentley said.

After the flames were brought under control, the house was charred across the front and the roof was gone.

Hawbaker said it was too early Sunday afternoon to determine a damage estimate.

About 56 firefighters worked at the scene, he said.

Mike Mowen, director of emergency services for the local American Red Cross, said Sunday night that his organization was assisting Small’s family.

The house fire was not far from another that occurred on Millers Church Road on March 2 that heavily damaged a single-story house.

A woman who lived in that house believed the fire was caused by a cooking accident.

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